Blue Train (album)

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Blue Train
Coltrane leans back with a reed in his mouth in a deep blue-on-black photo. The words "BLUE TRAIN" are written above his head in white followed by "john coltrane" in green.
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 1958 (1958-01)[1][2]
RecordedSeptember 15, 1957
StudioVan Gelder Studio
Hackensack, NJ
GenreHard bop[3]
LabelBlue Note
BLP 1577
ProducerAlfred Lion
John Coltrane chronology
Blue Train
John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio

Blue Train is a studio album by American jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey on September 15, 1957 and released on Blue Note in January 1958. It is Coltrane's only session as leader for the label.[1][2][4]


Personal life[edit]

The album was recorded in the midst of Coltrane's residency at the Five Spot as a member of the Thelonious Monk quartet. The personnel include Coltrane's Miles Davis bandmates, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, both of whom had worked before with pianist Kenny Drew. Both trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller were up-and-coming jazz musicians, and both were members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in due course. Unlike his previous label, Blue Note paid the musicians to rehearse the music for a couple of days before the recording session.[5]


All of the compositions were written by Coltrane, with the exception of the standard "I'm Old Fashioned". Though at this point his compositions used conventional diatonic harmonies, they were set in unconventional ways.[6] The title track is a bluesy song with a quasi-minor (Eb7#9) theme. "Locomotion" is also a blues riff tune, in forty-four-bar form.[7] "Lazy Bird" is in part a transposition into the key of "G" of the Tadd Dameron composition "Lady Bird".[8]


Coltrane's playing exhibits the move toward what would become his signature style. His solos are more harmonic or "vertical" and lines arpeggiated. His timing was often apart from or over the beat, rather than playing on or behind it.[5] During a 1960 interview, Coltrane described Blue Train as his favorite album of his own up to that point.[9]

John Coltrane's next major album, Giant Steps, recorded in 1959, would break new melodic and harmonic ground in jazz, whereas Blue Train adheres to the hard bop style of the era. Musicologist Lewis Porter has also demonstrated a harmonic relationship between Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" and Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird".[10]

While on Joe Vella's podcast "Traneumentary", Michael Cuscuna, the reissue producer at Blue Note, commented:

We’re listening to Blue Train, which to me is one of the most beautiful pieces on one of the most beautiful records that Coltrane recorded in the fifties. It’s his first real mature statement and he wrote all but one of the tunes on this album which was very rare in the fifties and each one is a gem, particularly the title tune Blue Train. And while it’s kind of easy to play the blues, this has a suspended and haunting kind of quality to it.[11]

Reissues and certification[edit]

It has been certified gold by the RIAA.[12]

In 1997, The Ultimate Blue Train was released, adding two alternate takes and enhanced content, and in 1999 a 24bit 192 kHz DVD-Audio version was issued. In 2003, both a Super Audio Compact Disc version was released, as well as a remastered compact disc as part of Blue Note's Rudy Van Gelder series.

In 2015, Blue Note/Universal released a Blu-ray audio edition of the album with four bonus tracks, one of which is a previously unreleased take of "Lazy Bird". Alternate takes of "Moment's Notice" were released on Blue Train: The Complete Masters, in 2022.


Professional ratings
Review scores
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[14]
Tom HullA−[15]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz[16]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[17]

In 2000 it was voted number 339 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[18] He stated "Coltrane may have made more important albums, but none swung as effectively as this one.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by John Coltrane except where noted.

Side one

  1. "Blue Train" – 10:43
  2. "Moment's Notice" – 9:10

Side 2

  1. "Locomotion" – 7:14
  2. "I'm Old Fashioned" (Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern) – 7:58
  3. "Lazy Bird" – 7:00



Technical personnel[edit]


Chart performance for Blue Train: Complete Masters
Chart (2022) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[19] 31
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[20] 17
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[21] 75
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[22] 39
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[23] 12
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[24] 43
Japanese Hot Albums (Billboard Japan)[25] 62
Scottish Albums (OCC)[26] 23
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 21
US Billboard 200[28] 95
US Top Jazz Albums (Billboard)[29] 1


Certifications for Blue Train
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[30] Gold 50,000^
Italy (FIMI)[31] Platinum 50,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[33] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b DeVito, Chris; Fujioka, Yasuhiro; Schmaler, Wolf; Wild, David (2013). Porter, Lewis (ed.). The John Coltrane Reference. New York/Abingdon: Routledge. p. 484. ISBN 9780415634632.
  2. ^ a b Parnes, Sid, ed. (January 18, 1958). "January Album Releases" (PDF). The Cash Box. New York: The Cash Box Publishing Co. p. 45. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ Cook 2004, p. 103.
  4. ^ Ackerman, Paul, ed. (January 27, 1958). "Packaged Records Buying Guide" (PDF). The Billboard. Cincinnati: The Billboard Publishing Co. p. 26. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Nisenson, Eric (1993). Ascension: John Coltrane and his Quest. St. Martin's Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0312098384.
  6. ^ Brown, Leonard (2010). John Coltrane and Black America's Quest for Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-19-971650-0.
  7. ^ Jazz Discography on-line
  8. ^ Porter 1999, p. 128.
  9. ^ Porter 1999, p. 157.
  10. ^ Porter 1999, pp. 128–131.
  11. ^ "Traneumentary Podcast - Blue Train". Mosaic Records - Home for Jazz fans!. Archived from the original on 2021-07-09. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  12. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum Search retrieved August 2, 2011 Archived June 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Blue Train at AllMusic
  14. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  15. ^ Hull, Tom (n.d.). "Jazz (1940s-50s)". Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  16. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0.
  17. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 46. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  18. ^ Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 135. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  19. ^ "Longplay Charts vom 27. September 2022". Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  20. ^ " – John Coltrane – Blue Train" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  21. ^ " – John Coltrane – Blue Train" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  22. ^ " – John Coltrane – Blue Train" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 24, 2022.
  23. ^ " – John Coltrane – Blue Train" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  24. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums: 2022-09-26/p/5" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  25. ^ "Billboard Japan Hot Albums: 2022/09/21 公開". Billboard Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  26. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 24, 2022.
  27. ^ " – John Coltrane – Blue Train". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  28. ^ "John Coltrane Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  29. ^ "John Coltrane Chart History (Top Jazz Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  30. ^ "Canadian album certifications – John Coltrane – Blue Train". Music Canada.
  31. ^ "Italian album certifications – John Coltrane – Blue Train" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 29 August 2022. Select "2022" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Blue Train" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  32. ^ "British album certifications – John Coltrane – Blue Train". British Phonographic Industry.
  33. ^ "American album certifications – John Coltrane – Blue Train". Recording Industry Association of America.